Sweet Sorrow


By Brook Rivera I know we’d like to think sugar is our friend – it soothes us when we’re stressed out, gives us an energy boost when we’re tired, and produces that euphoric feeling we all love and crave...but these are only short term pleasures that are just as quickly replaced by longer term health consequences.  (Read about 142 of them here.)

In terms of cancer and healing, sugar can be your Achille’s tendon and cancer’s best friend- not exactly an ideal situation.

So why would sugar be less than desirable in a cancer situation?  Without getting too technical, here’s what happens:

When you eat sugar or refined flours, your blood sugar levels spike, which in turn signals the pancreas to release insulin.  The insulin acts as a chauffeur and transports the glucose (sugar from the blood) into your cells.  Cancer cells have 20x more insulin sensitive receptors than normal cells, so who do you think is going to get the first bite and most of the meal?  Cancer cells, of course.

But it doesn’t end there.  All cells use glucose for energy and growth.  However, how that glucose is used and its end result is different in cancer cells than normal cells.  Normal cells typically use oxygen to help metabolize glucose.  Cancer cells snub their nose at oxygen, preferring to use fermentation of sugar (glucose) as an alternative source of energy, in order to function without oxygen.  This process produces a large amount of lactic acid which results in a lower pH, more acidic environment in cancerous tissues – another less than ideal situation, since disease thrives in acidic conditions.

This doesn’t mean you have to stop eating all forms of sugar.  A diet low in refined flours and sugars, and high in vegetables – especially green leafy ones; daily exercise; and stress reduction will all contribute to more stable blood sugar levels.  Without excess sugar circulating through the blood you can prevent high surges of insulin (which provide more fuel to cancer cells) and excess lactic acid (which contributes to an acidic environment that is ideal for cancer).

To learn more about which foods can help you maintain stable blood sugar, be sure to attend one of our nutrition classes!